Construction of the Texas-Mexico border of the new Tornillo-Guadalupe New International Bridge and Port of Entry into El Paso has officially begun, when completed it will be the largest in the USA.
The new bridge will replace the Fabens-caseta International Bridge, originally built in 1938, in an aim to ease congestion on the route and increase bilateral and cross border trade between Mexico and North America. Today, after Canada, Mexico is the USA’s biggest trading partner with daily bilateral trade currently worth $1 billion.
An official public ceremony was held by government officials from the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Homeland Security’s Custom and Border Protection Agency, on Wednesday 20 July to kick start the beginning of the construction phase of what is going to be regarded as the biggest infrastructure development of its kind in the USA.
The $133 million border crossing includes six lanes and roadways from the port will connect travellers to the nearby Interstate 10 in California; the fourth longest highway in the country connecting the east to the west. It will be based 30 miles east of El Paso and it will have the capability to hold large trucks and non-commercial vehicles, unlike the older Fabens-caseta Bridge; this in turn can help increase trade between the two countries.
The goal of the development is to ease congestion during crossing times into El Paso where travellers commonly spend two hours in limbo. Experts believe it will also increase security over the Texas-Mexico border, particularly in contending with drug cartels.
Another focus of the new route is the impact of its design. In an official press release, JD Salinas, the GSA’s Greater Southwest Administrator outlined that the construction and design focus of the new development “will incorporate the latest innovations in technology which will work towards the government’s goal of conserving energy, reducing water consumption and protecting natural resources”.
Uniquely for a road and bridge infrastructure project, included in the design are sustainability features such as building integrated photovoltaic solar systems and to conserve energy further LED lighting systems and highly efficient HVAC systems will also be put into place.
Once the route is completed in June 2013 by combining these features into the finished development, there is the possibility the infrastructure project can achieve the Silver certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, also known as LEED, the leading American green certification system run by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).